There are three seats on Town Council that will be filled by the three candidates that get the most votes in the March 7th election. There are five candidates on the ballot: Bruce Butcher, Anita Cereceda, Forrest “Butch” Critser, Joanne Shamp and Ber Stevenson. Voters will be asked to vote for up to three candidates. Council has 5 seats total. The three seats up for election are currently filled by Anita Cereceda and Rexann Hosafros, both elected in 2014, and Joanne Shamp, who was appointed in December to fill the remaining three months of Summer Stockton’s term after her resignation. The council seats held by Tracey Gore and Dennis Boback will be on the ballot in March 2019.
In the March 2016 Town Council election, 57.7% of Island voters participated, with the two winning candidates getting 27% of the vote (Tracey Gore) and 17.6% (Dennis Boback.) That election had 6 candidates on the ballot plus one write-in. The Town of Fort Myers Beach has 4,933 registered voters as of February 6, 2017.
There is also Referendum #1 question on the ballot related to the Town Charter. A year ago voters approved the removal of revenue sharing language from the Town Charter, along with several other charter changes. Legal advice at that time was that the Charter provision was unnecessary language in the Charter and that revenue sharing was already provided for by both a special act of the legislature and by general law. Shortly before the March 2016 referendum, the then new Town Attorney, Dawn Lehnert expressed concern that passage of the change would cut the town off from state revenue sharing funds.
The Town sought advice from the Attorney General’s office and the Department of Revenue (DOR). The DOR responded that the Town did not need to make any correction provided the town generates at least $3,040,496.04 each year from ad valorem taxes, utility service, business licenses and Communication Service Taxes, which the Town was expected to do in FY 2017. The DOR did say that if the Town wished to make a correction, a referendum would be the proper method, either in this March election or by mailed ballot. The Town chose to put it on the March 7th ballot. The referendum question will read:
“Charter Amendment Reinstating Revenue Sharing Criteria Text To Meet Statutory Threshold To Obtain Funds
“Charter Amendment allows the Town to meet the annual state revenue sharing criteria by including the ad valorem levy of all independent special districts operating within the Town Boundaries as part of the Town’s calculation necessary to meet the millage equivalency threshold and receive state funds. The proposed amendment is similar to previous Charter section 17.01.
“Shall this Charter Amendment be adopted?”
All Town residents who were registered to vote on February 6, 2017 are eligible to vote in this election. If voters have not yet requested and returned a vote by mail ballot in time to be counted on March 7th, they need to head to the polls on Tuesday to vote.
The Town of Fort Myers Beach has three voting precincts: Chapel by the Sea (82), Church of the Ascension (81) and St. Peter Lutheran Church (127). Voters can check their precinct online at lee.vote. Polling locations will be open from 7am to 7pm on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. You must present photo identification to vote.
Florida law requires voters to be registered 29 days before an election. Changes to your Lee County address or signature can be done at any Elections Office. The closest Lee Election Offices to Fort Myers Beach are the Lee County Election Center, 13180 S. Cleveland Ave, Fort Myers and the Bonita Springs Branch Office, 25987 S. Tamiami Trail #105, Bonita Springs.
Any questions about registration, signature updates and vote by mail can be directed to the Lee Elections Office. Phone 239-LEE-VOTE or online at lee.vote.